Influenza season 2017/18 has begun
The 2017/2018 influenza season officially started on Monday October 2nd. HPSC has published the first weekly report of the season on Thursday October 12th. To date, influenza activity remains low.
Influenza Vaccination - the most effective way to prevent getting flu
The beginning of the flu season is an opportune time to remind people of the importance of getting the influenza vaccine which remains the most effective way to prevent influenza. In particular, it is important that people who are in the at-risk groups for influenza get vaccinated as they are more likely to develop complications from flu such as pneumonia and may end up being hospitalised.
It is recommended that the following people who are at increased risk for influenza receive the vaccine:
- Persons aged 65 years and older
- Persons with chronic illness requiring regular medical care as follows:
- chronic respiratory disease (including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, moderate or severe asthma, and bronchopulmonary dysplasia),
- chronic heart disease,
- chronic liver disease,
- chronic kidney disease,
- chronic neurological disease (including multiple sclerosis and hereditary and degenerative disorders of the central nervous system),
- neurodevelopmental disorders e.g. cerebral palsy, intellectual disability (including those attending special schools/day centres)
- children and adults with Down syndrome
- diabetes mellitus,
- haemoglobinopathies e.g. sickle cell disease.
- Persons with weakened immune systems due to disease or treatment and all cancer patients.
- All pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
- Persons with morbid obesity i.e. Body mass index ≥40
- Residents of nursing homes, old people’s homes, and other long stay facilities
- Health Care Workers, household contacts of at-risk persons and out-of-home care givers to at-risk persons (both for their own protection and for the protection of patients who may have a suboptimal response to influenza vaccination)
- People who have close, regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl
Seasonal flu (also known as influenza) is a highly infectious illness caused by the flu virus.
The virus infects the lungs and upper airways and symptoms usually develop rapidly - over a matter of a few hours - and include a high temperature (≥380C), sore muscles, dry cough, headache and sore throat. This is different from the common cold, which tends to come on more gradually and usually includes a runny nose and a normal temperature.
Anyone who gets flu should stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and use over-the-counter remedies like paracetamol to ease symptoms. Symptoms can last for up to one week and you may need to stay in bed until they get better. It is advisable to contact your GP if they get worse.
Anyone in one of the high-risk groups should contact their GP if they develop influenza symptoms.
Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and sneeze, disposing of the tissue as soon as possible and cleaning your hands as soon as you can are important measures in helping prevent the spread of influenza and other germs and reducing the risk of transmission. Posters on the HPSC website provide detailed instruction on this.
More information on influenza and influenza vaccination is available on the HPSC and National immunisation office websites below:
National Immunisation Office: http://www.hse.ie/eng/health/Immunisation/pubinfo/flu-vaccination/